How to Outline a Scene like a Pro

Hello, lovely people, I hope you are well? You are? Great! I know I am, it’s Friday after all! The last few days I have been outlining my scenes so that I am ready for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

I’m reading an amazing book by CS Lakin called The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction which I have found invaluable. Lakin gives a scene checklist which I recommend you get your hands on.

I have used this to ask myself set questions per scene, and they are helping me so much I thought I would share them with you. Let me know what you think!

​What is the action or revelation that is the high impact crux of this scene?

What new information will this scene tell the reader?

What is the purpose of the scene?

What do I want the reader to know by reading this scene?

What is the protagonist reacting to here?

What added extra sparkle does the scene have?

Where does the scene begin?

What action is taking place when the scene starts?

How is it different to the opening of the scene before?

What is the POV?

How will I show this POV in the first few sentences?

How will I show the passing of time from the last scene?

What is my hook that grabs the reader at the start of the scene?

Imagine I’m in the scene, note down the first five things my senses notice.

List all the conflict that will take place in the scene.

How will the high moment stand out?

What juicy revelations that come further along in the book do I hint to?

How will I end in a way that excites the reader?

By the end what has been resolved or left hanging?

What do I want the reader to feel by the end of this scene?

What is the beginning middle and end of this scene?

Do you use a similar list of questions, or are you more of a pantser? As always I’d love your comments and any wisdom you have to share.

Outlining your Novel

A few days ago I read a blog post by amandagrey1 about Novel writing software, and it got me thinking. To have a look at the post, please follow this link

At the start of my novel, about two months ago, I took up an offer of a free trial with Novlr and I have to say I loved it. In particular, I loved the statistics it gave me. As I work with statistics as a day job I really enjoyed seeing my hobby displayed as numbers too. I did face a big problem, however, and that was issues with the server. I didn’t decide to pay the monthly fee after my trial ran out as so often I would try to log on, the system would be down, and I wouldn’t be able to work on my novel. Because of this, I decided to use OneDrive and Word to write the rest of my book.

However now I am getting myself into a muddle and my writing goals in terms of my outline went out of the window as I no longer had a clear idea of each chapter’s goal and structure. Amandagrey1 on her blog mentioned both Novlr and Litlift and so I decided to try Litlift for a while. I am 30 minutes in and very inspired so far.

There is a fantastic Outline Feature that has helped me to get back on the right track. I initially outlined my whole novel, and then I began itching to write, so I scrapped my detailed planning and started writing straight out of my imagination. Many thousands of words in, I now know my characters so much better. However, when I looked into the outline system on Litlift I found so many weak points.

Firstly my opening chapters had become bogged down with backstory and my main “hook” was left until Chapter 10. Rooky error! Now I have shuffled things around and feel much more confident that my book will grip it’s reader (fingers crossed!) from the start. I also hadn’t introduced my bad guy until later on in the novel, and so moving them into the start of the book has made things much more interesting.

On that day I went from 11,000 words to only keeping 2,000 of them, which was, in all honesty, a little gutting. However, I would much rather find out my weak points now, rather than get further into my story and realise that my plotline was fundamentally flawed. 

I would love to hear about anyone else’s experience with outlining and whether or not you find it helps you. As a new writer I’m looking to get as much advice as I can get!